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French lawmakers have undertaken the initiative to pass a law on the fight against the dissemination of fake news and against manipulation with information.

Deputy of the La République en Marche Party Bruno Studer provided details about the law during a conversation with Armenia’s journalists who visited the National Assembly of French Republic within the framework of a tour for journalists organized by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bruno Studer, who is a co-rapporteur for the law and head of the committee on culture and education, clarified that he had come up with the idea of the need to protect true information and hinder the spread of fake news when he remembered his job as a schoolchildren and how he used to provide coverage of different political processes unfolding in different parts of the world. The Deputy also stated that he was against the term “fake news” since this is a term that Americans use.

“This law isn’t against journalists. On the contrary, it protects true information and hinders the spread of fake news,” the lawmaker highlighted, recalling that there are two levels of freedom: freedom of speech and freedom of choice. The law implies a ban on ordered materials and advertisements during elections and a ban on the advertisement of a candidate or political party through social networks during elections.

Studer also noted that the issue of fake news is a subtle issue since French legislation had envisaged punishment for overtly fake news back in the 1980s. According to him, what is also very important is the discipline of media representatives and the discipline of trust between society and the media.

Judges have to determine whether information is false or not through a court decision that has to be adopted within 48 hours. “In practice, unfortunately, fake news attracting the public often spark more interest than the serious task of a journalist. It turns out that this is a unique “black market” of the media, and this law is targeted exactly at this sector,” Bruno Studer highlighted.

In this context, he also reminded about the role of social networks. “Social networks make money. In essence, when Facebook transfers information, Facebook chooses what you read, not you,” the lawmaker said with certainty.

It turns out that French journalists weren’t too excited about the initiative at first, but their attitudes gradually changed. The authors of and rapporteurs for the law are avoiding making definite judgments in favor of the law for the time being, but they have voiced hope that the law will be enforced in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.

 

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